„Artists make this world a better place“ – one of the statements of Ayfer Ünal, jury member of the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2014. Thank you, Dear Ayfer, for this personal insight into the work as a jury member!
I served for the Hans Christian Andersen Jury for two terms, both in 2012 and in 2014. It is immense work as well as immense pleasure!Work, because you have to read and study approximately 300 books in only nine months. As I told my dear friends at home, no one can make me open a book cover for a whole month after the jury meeting. Reading against time is very demanding.
Pleasure, because one really gets to meet the best artistic brains of the world in the field of children’s literature. I feel very very lucky and honored.
In some ways it is painful, too. The lonely comparative judgement process in the depths of your house which resembels a book jungle and not a house anymore is quite frustrating to times.
Every hour until the final moment that I send my long list of the final 10, I change my mind. I placed so and so illustrator to the third place. No, that was not just it. I have to go back and change the list. An hour goes by and I ask myself „Are you really sure you want to include this illustrator and not that one?“ Then I take a look at the books again. So this goes on and on and on.
But then, finally, comes the discussion part with the other jury members. Some opinions validate your reasoning. You take a deep breath and your concience smiles. With some decisions you have to adapt your thinking.You learn and in a way you grow with other ways of seeing and assessing the world. But the discussions all add to your intellectual assets and once again you feel very lucky.
After the experience you are not your oldself anymore.You feel humble with the brightness of other stars.You feel deep respect for many different ways of creative expression. You realize that one is not superior to the other but every artist just expresses him/herself as one is. You feel gratitude for all those brilliant dedicated artists who made this world a better place by making the children happy through a book they have created. You feel peaceful that you were able to contribute.